It takes hard work and dedication to produce a school play or musical. One theatre teacher is helping students bring the art of drama to life at O.L. Slaton Junior High School. NewsChannel 11's Suleika Acosta takes us to the stage for this week's Teacher You Can Count On.
Lights, curtain, action! Karen Ray is no stranger to the bright lights of the theatre. For 14 years she has directed, challenged and inspired her students to take the stage by storm. "They do technical theatre, the kids learn how to run the computerized light board. They learn how to run all the sound. These kids act as assistant directors, head of all crews, they're going run the lights for the show," she explains.
Aside from the technical aspect, students also act in live productions. "We always do plays and everyone gets a chance to star at something and everyone gets the chance to get a good part," says Austin, one of Ms. Ray's more than 200 students.
"Our goals in the classroom are to help them feel good about themselves and help them learn to express themselves to other people, to be at ease in front of the audience," says Ms. Ray. She believes this exposure gives students a lifelong appreciation for the arts. "I think that a lot of them are going to be doctors and lawyers and different things but if you don't add that element of appreciation of music and theatre and art then you're missing a little chunk of yourself that really does enrich your life for always," she explains.
"She just makes it so much fun and so easy to get up and talk to people, be in front of an audience. It's really fun," says Katie, another student.
After eight weeks of rehearsing, Ms. Ray's eighth graders preformed their production of Into The Woods in front of a sold out audience. "Seeing them really put their heart in it, they see how good it is when it comes out. That satisfaction they get is just so rewarding," adds Ms. Ray.
Several of Ms. Ray's former students are working actors. They often speak to her students about future career possibilities.